The federal government will be deploying 12 Super Tucano jets against bandits as part of concerted efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari to end terrorism before 2023.
The Nation reported that while the federal government has started perfecting the conditions for the release of a gazette which will legally classify bandits as terrorists, the United States (U.S.) has not given a blank cheque to Nigeria on the use of the fighter jets.
It was also learnt that U.S. officers have been coming to Nigeria to evaluate the use of the jets in line with the terms of sale, following a monthly schedule floated by the North American countr to monitor the deployment of the jets, the battle grounds and the purpose of the deployment.
The publication also reported that Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice confirmed that the procedures were almost met last night.
A source who spoke in confidence said the court declaration of bandits as terrorists was an impetus to the war against insurgency.
The source said;
“You know that the Federal Government, on its own, went to court and got the judgment declaring bandits as terrorists. This has excited everyone.
“The American suppliers of the aircraft needed to be assured that Nigeria will keep to the terms of the sale, which is to strictly use them against terrorists.
“Now that the courts have said so, you should expect the deployment of the aircraft as soon as all processes, including the gazetting of the judgment, are completed.
“But, even before this is done, new platforms are being received and deployed and you can see the devastating effects of the nation’s airpower on the terrorists and bandits in the Northeast and the Northwest.
“Last week’s Nigeria Air Force bombing of the camp of the notorious bandit, Turji, in Zamfara State, is a case in point. Things are changing very rapidly.”
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu who commented on the declaration of bandits as terrorists by a Nigerian court, said;
“We in the presidency are excited by the decision of the court.”
Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said the procedures for the gazette on bandits were almost done. The Special Adviser on Media to the AGF, Dr. Umaru Gwandu, said;
“The Federal Government has published the proscription order in two national dailies as a requirement.
“The Federal Government has also ordered that the order be in the gazette. I am optimistic that the Nigerian public will soon see the published order in the gazette. I think if it is not out, it could be out any moment from now.”
It was also gathered that apart from limiting the jets for campaign only against terrorists in the North, the US team has been auditing their operations monthly.
A source also said the U.S. has been “very strict” in evaluating the deployment of the jets to avoid abuse by the military.
The source said;
“Every month, a team from the U.S. used to come to audit the deployment of the jets. They have asked us to ensure that the number of hours of operations will be registered in the box; where the jets have been to for operations and for what specific purposes.
“They sold the aircraft to us but they did not give us a blank cheque on how to use these aircraft. We have kept to the terms and we are winning the war. This is why the President directed the Armed Forces to end the war before his exit in 2023.”